Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

IPWatchdog -Top Patent Law Blogs Vote.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on May 31, 2009

Well, we originally weren’t going to post a link to Gene Quinn’s recent IPWatchdog poll on the top patent law blogs (in which AT! was kindly named), in an effort to not overtly “skew” or “boost” our ratings.  However, we have succumbed to the pressure.  After all, so many others seems to be jumping off that bridge (see Patently-O, Patent Baristas, 271 Patent, IPKatPatent Circle, etc.) so why not us too? 

If any of our readers would like to vote for the Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog as a favorite or oft-read patent law blog, then visit IPWatchdog at this link.   If for no other reason, it is probably worthwhile visiting the post to review the list of patent-related sites available, and possibly check out a few to add to your daily read.

Remember, we’re trying to boost our numbers, folks, so vote early and vote often!  Voting will continue until June 30, 2009, and the results will be tabulated and announced in early July 2009.  Enjoy!

Poor Man’s Opposition.

Posted in Practice Commentary by Jake Ward on May 28, 2009

Continuing our earlier discussions on how art may be submitted to the USPTO by third parties for pending patent applications (see post on Protests here, and post on Third Party Submissions here), one option to be considered is the so-called “poor man’s opposition”.  The poor man’s opposition brings relevant prior art to the attention of a patent applicant in an attempt to cause the patent applicant to likewise bring the art to the attention of the USPTO.  This strategy relies on the duty of candor of each individual associated with the filing of a patent application.  The duty of candor includes a duty to disclose to the USPTO all information known to be material to patentability.

As earlier posted at Patently-O (with some further AT! modifications), a poor-man’s opposition may be performed as follows:

1.  Create a package of prior art and a report explaining why claims in a pending patent application are unpatentable;
2.  Mail the package to the a patent applicant (or the applicant’s attorney) with a reminder of the duty of candor;
3.  Monitor PAIR to ensure the applicant submits the package to the USPTO (in order to satisfy the duty of candor), and that the Examiner receives and uses the package; and
4.  Provide follow-up evidence and reports to the patent applicant, if necessary. 

If the patent applicant fails to submit the prior art (and arguably the associated reasoning), and a patent later issues, the failure to submit the prior art may be used as evidence of inequitable conduct for purpose of establishing that the patent is unenforceable.  Accordingly, the poor man’s opposition may be a useful strategy even if the patent applicant does not bring the prior art to the attention of the USPTO as intended.

As a note of caution, it should be recognized that the poor man’s opposition does tend to “show one’s hand” to the patentee (although the opposing party can certainly remain anonymous by mailing the package through an intermediary).  An additional concern is that the art identified in the poor man’s opposition will be brought to the attention of the Examiner and not be applied in the expected manner (i.e., one that results in a rejection of the patent claims).  However, the poor man’s opposition is certainly one strategy that a third party may consider for purposes of submitting prior art to a pending patent application with the USPTO.

They Invented What? (No. 139)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on May 27, 2009

U.S. Pat. No. 7,137,935: Office gym exercise kit.


What is claimed is:

1. An exercise kit for attachment to a chair having a central post, a base, and a chair back support, said exercise kit comprising:
         (a) a generally T-shaped flexible body constructed of flexible fabric, the top of the T-shaped flexible body comprising a generally rectangular portion having a plurality of retainers secured thereon, an elongated strap secured to said generally rectangular portion and extending outwardly from and substantially perpendicular to one of the sides of the generally rectangular portion, said elongated strap terminating in a free end, said generally rectangular portion further including fastening means located adjacent the sides of the rectangular body perpendicular to said one side for affixing said rectangular portion of said flexible body about a central post of a chair, means for affixing said elongated strap about a chair base, and means for affixing said rectangular portion to said elongated strap free end;
          (b) a flexible band, said flexible band comprising of strip of flexible material having at least one retainer affixed thereon, said flexible band including fastening means for securing said flexible band about a chair back support;
          (c) a first elastic exercise strap, said first elastic exercise strap comprising a first elastic band having a pair of elastic handles located at either end of the first elastic band and permanently affixed thereon, and a first pair of resistance adjusting pieces to tighten or loosen the tension of said first elastic band;
          (d) a second elastic exercise strap, said second elastic exercise strap comprising a second elastic band and a second pair of adjusting pieces to tighten or loosen the tension of said second elastic band;
          (e) an ankle attachment, said ankle attachment comprising a strip of flexible material which is removably securable to said second elastic strap, said ankle attachment including mating hook and loop fasteners for removably securing said ankle attachment about a person’s ankle;
          (f) a plurality of attachable handles, each of said plurality of attachable handles being removably securable to said second elastic strap; and
         (g) a means for latching said first elastic strap and said second elastic strap onto said plurality of retainers located on said flexible body and said flexible band.


They Invented What? (No. 138)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on May 20, 2009

U.S. Pat. No. 4,834,212:  Sound muffler for covering the mouth.


We claim:

1. A human sound muffler and indicator comprising a unitary body adapted to be grasped and manipulated by a user, at least one end of said body comprising a saddle shaped body of compliant sound absorbing foam material adapted to fit over the mouth of a user and engage the face around the mouth to form an effective sound seal to receive sound directly from the mouth and absorb substantially most of the sound in the foam material, a microphone for receiving unabsorbed sound disposed adjacent the bottom of said foam saddle and providing an output signal responsive to the unabsorbed sound, and means in said body for receiving said output signal and providing an indication on said body of the intensity of the unabsorbed sound.


USPTO to Establish TC Ombudsman Positions.

Posted in Practice Commentary by Jake Ward on May 19, 2009

Per this interview at IPWatchdog with Peggy Focarino, Acting Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO, the Office may be implementing a Technology Center (TC) -level “Ombudsman” position as part of an overall effort to improve the patent application process.  Ms. Focarino stated that the TC Ombudsman would be available as a resource for an Applicant on application-specific issues, for purpose of facilitating the resolution of the issues when they arise.  She envisions the role to be a facilitator of sorts for resolving administrative issues quickly, and for allowing an application to be quickly placed back on track.  The resource would also be independent of an Examiner’s chain of command, so as to be a neutral party relative to the Applicant and the Examiner.

JW Note:  As a practitioner, this would be a welcomed addition to the USPTO internal hierarchy, and could certainly be a useful resource in relation to the occasional administrative issue.

Upcoming CLE Event – Role of the U.S. Patent Examiner; Patent Examiner Training Academy.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on May 6, 2009

TIPLA logo 

As some of our readers may know, I currently preside over the Toledo Intellectual Property Law Association (TIPLA).  TIPLA has organized a number of great CLE events this year (and shall remain my number one excuse for the sparse postings to AT! over the past several months).  To round off the 2008-2009 TIPLA event calendar, the association has organized the following event, which many of our readers in the Midwest may be interested in attending.  We are highly excited about this event, and hope that you can join us. 


The Toledo Intellectual Property Law Association (TIPLA) is pleased to sponsor a program titled “Role of the U.S. Patent Examiner; Patent Examiner Training Academy” on Friday, May 15, 2009. The program will be held at the University of Toledo, College of Law. The program will include a presentation by Ms. Deborah J. Reynolds, Patent Training Program Administrator at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. Topics such as an overview of the role played by the U.S. Patent Examiner, how to become a U.S. Patent Examiner, and rules and regulations taught at the Patent Examiner Training Academy will be discussed. Specific modules used to train new Patent Examiners will be reviewed during the presentation.

Continuing legal education (CLE) of 3.0 credit hours has been approved by the Supreme Court of Ohio for the event. Attorney admission is $40.00 for TIPLA members, and $60.00 for non-members. Admission to the program is free for law and science/engineering students and technical professionals interested in a career with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Any persons interested in attending the program are encouraged to complete and return the attached form as indicated, or e-mail the TIPLA officers at for more information.

BIOGRAPHY – Ms. Deborah J. Reynolds, Patent Training Program Administrator:

Ms. Reynolds holds the position Patent Training Program Administrator in the Office of Patent Training at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. She oversees operations of the Patent Training Academy, which includes the new patent examiner training program; and has graduated over 2400 new patent examiners over the past 3 years. Previously Ms. Reynolds was a class manager in the Patent Training Academy where she oversaw 3 on-going classes, with over 300 employees under her responsibility. Prior to joining the Office of Patent Training, Ms. Reynolds was both a Quality Assurance Specialist and a Supervisory Patent Examiner for Technology Center 1600. Ms. Reynolds came to the USPTO in July 1996 and examined in the gene therapy and transgenic animal arts in Technology Center 1600. She progressed to Primary Examiner and was promoted to Supervisory Patent Examiner in November of 2000. Ms. Reynolds holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from Pikeville College, in Kentucky. Before beginning her career at the USPTO, she worked in the Biochemistry Department at Uniformed Services University and the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

They Invented What? (No. 137)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on May 6, 2009

U.S. Pat. No. 6,743,460:  Tomato raisin. 

What is claimed is:
1. A method of producing a tomato raisin, comprising:
     (a) removing the skin from a grape tomato to produce a skinless grape tomato; and

     (b) drying said skinless grape tomato to produce a tomato raisin.